I just realized that I am lucky. Very lucky. I have the luxury to be able to dash to the grocery store frequently and rarely think of the cost of groceries, unless I’m splurging on an item like crab or shrimp. But a hunk of Parmesano Reggiano? No problem – just grab a hunk and head home.
So when I saw a news article recently advertising a “Food Stamp Challenge,” I was intrigued. Only $4.00 per day per person??? Could I really
live on cook delicious food with that??? Not just live on drive-thru food-like substances, but make real, healthy, delicious, actual food?
I decided to take the Food Stamp Challenge and find out. Next week the state is challenging folks to try to eat with the same amount of money as folks who live on food stamps November 8 though 14. That’s $4.00 per person per day. It almost goes without saying that this is incredibly hard to do. Even chicken thighs, a very frugal cut of chicken, are about 75 cents per thigh, which is half of the allotment for one entire meal.
It was hard – very hard – to come up with even one day’s menu – let alone come up with a week – or, Heaven Forbid, a lifetime – of menus that fit the challenge.
My heart goes out to all the folks who live this as a way of life and not just a limited and obviously artificial challenge – especially the single moms who work hard, nurture kids, pinch pennies and deal with all the stress that comes with poverty. Years ago a very close lifelong friend of mine had a period of extreme poverty with an unemployed husband and five small children. She said to me “When you’re poor, you can’t do anything else but Be Poor – all your energy, your whole being is focussed on survival, and you have room for little else in your life.”
So, here is my small token of empathy – a day’s worth of meals with a recipe for Mahogany Roasted Chicken Thighs – at approximately $4.00 per person per day.